The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from an ancestral somatic cell is one of the most important processes underlying their generation, but the mechanism has yet to be identified. This is principally because these cells emerge at a low frequency, about 0.1% in the case of fibroblasts, and in a stochastic manner. In our current study, we succeeded in identifying ancestral fibroblasts and the subsequent processes leading to their conversion to iPSCs. The ancestral fibroblasts were found to divide several times in a morphologically symmetric manner, maintaining a fibroblastic shape, and then gradually transform into embryonic stem-like cells. Interestingly, this conversion occurred within 48 hours after gene introduction in most iPSC generations. This is the first report to directly observe a cell lineage conversion of somatic cells to stem cells and provides a critical new insight into the "black box" of iPSCs, that is, the first three days of their generation.